Las Vegas: The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health has obtained the only Investigational New Drug (IND) to be issued by the Federal Drug Administration to test the GE180 ligand tracer, an experimental diagnostic imaging tool used to detect neuroinflammation, in the brains of those with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Ligand tracers are used in radiology to help better depict protein interactions in living cells. Aaron Ritter, M.D., director of clinical trials at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, holds the IND for GE180 and serves as the principal investigator of a new positron emission tomography (PET) imaging study observing neuroinflammation in the brain.
The study’s goals are to better understand the link between inflammation and neurodegeneration, as well as determine if the tracer works in a new application: a patient population consisting of participants with normal cognitive function as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Currently, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is the first and only trial site testing GE180 in this patient population.
While inflammation is proven to play a role in both kidney and heart disease, the extent of its impact in brain disease is yet to be determined. Researchers are increasingly reporting that neuroinflammation — or over-activation of immune cells in the brain — may play an important role in pathology for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but more research is warranted.
“We do know there is some connection between inflammation and neurodegenerative disease, but we have yet to confirm what that is, and until now, it’s been hard to quantify in a living brain. The GE180 tracer is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the science of brain disease in ways that have not previously been studied,” said Dr. Ritter. “If we can confirm that inflammation plays a role in dementia, this could lead to new treatments that specifically target cognitive decline.”
The imaging study is an observational sub-study of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health’s Center of Biomedical Research of Excellence (COBRE) grant, which aims to understand the similarities between Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The two-year trial will use the GE180 tracer in conjunction with PET scans to detect neuroinflammation in the brains of 70 participants. The COBRE grant is funded by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) P20GM109025 from the National Institutes of Health.
For additional information about the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, visit ClevelandClinic.org/Nevada.